The advantage of modern means of communication is they enable you to worry about things in all of the world. Dr. Laurence J. PeterIt is one of my favourite things to do. Walk through a conservation area here in the city with Ellie and both my daughters and share our stories and thoughts and ideas on life and living and being alive. It was the perfect day for it. Sunny. Not too hot. Mid-afternoon.
We walked and laughed and chatted. The girls occasionally bickered over some trivial aspect of who's who and who's not in the zoo. Ellie tugged at her leash, desperate to be set free to explore the environment. We couldn't let her off. It's a Dogs On Leash Only zone. But, she knew that soon we would veer off the beaten path, onto a tributary, walk deeper into the woods to a spot where we could access the river. Far from passersby, she would be allowed to have a swim and so, she tugged me forward. Faster. Faster.
As we walked along the path, people going in the opposite direction smiled and said Hello. We smiled back, Ellie straining to have her say as well. At one point, a guy whizzed by on his bike. We could tell he was talking from quite a ways away. His voice carried on the air towards us faster than his wheels could cover the distance. As he approached, it was easy to see the cellphone wire dangling from his earpiece. Buried deep in conversation, a frown lining his forehead, he was oblivious to anyone and anything else on the path.
Duh. Let's enjoy the great outdoors. But don't let yourself be disconnected.
Another guy followed not far behind. One hand on the handlebars. One texting on his cellphone.
And then another.
The girls and I laughed. "OMG," Alexis said. "What is with everyone? Can't they just take a break and enjoy the day without texting?"
Sad thing was. Another bicyclist passed by, his cellphone in hand, his fingers nimbly texting too.
At C.C's daughter's grad dance later that night, amidst the pomp and circumstance, cellphones also made an appearance. At the table behind ours, a bevy of young beauties sat chatting and laughing, sharing stories of the night. They looked like fairy-tale princesses. Their gowns frothy confections of taffeta and tulle of rich vibrant hues. Their hair rolled and permed, make-up artfully applied. I listened in on their conversation and laughed to myself. 'No matter how times change. Some things don't change.' They talked of boys and 'OMG did you see Elspbeth? What is she wearing? Someone should tell her.... And what about Jane? Why on earth would she come with that guy? He's such a.....' Girl chatter permeated the air borne high on teenage hormones racing into overdrive.
But, there was a difference from when I remembered sitting on that side of the generational gap. Way back then, cellphones were not the fashion accessory of the day.
As the girls chatted, one young girl sat, her upswept hairdo adorned with a diamond tiara and her slim body envelopped in a beautiful deep blue gown of silk and lace, her pearl white cellphone in one hand, busily texting. I watched her as she deftly clicked away, never missing a beat in the conversation, nor the excitement of the activity around her, nor a keystroke on her phone.
Connections. We are a society of perpetual connection of the binary kind. No matter where you roam, no matter how far you go, by boat or plane or camel, someone will be beeping you, calling you,texting you. It's cheaper to text, don't you know?
In the evolutionary mix of continuous regeneration and modification of every lifeform, the art of listening is slowly dying. How can I listen to what you're saying when I'm busying texting on one hand, pulling the top of my dress up with the other (which seemed to be the action of the evening amidst a room of strapless ballgowns) and sipping on a glass of punch as someone else is busily telling me about so and so's new boyfriend?
Perhaps texting is to mankind today what fire was to our neandrathal forefathers. Where once fire led the way out of the dark, texting is leading us back into the cave. Scientists in eras to come will finally have understanding of 'why' we developed the opposing thumb. And in its ascendence to the top of the evolutionary dog pile they'll have proven once and for all -- we really are no better than the chimpanzees.
Sad thing is, it may be cool to text while dancing -- or riding a bike for that matter, but in our attempts to prove the supremacy of our opposing thumbs, we've lost the art that brought us to the forefront of evolution. The ability to communicate and understand each other in deep, meaningful ways.
I used to be envious of my daughters and their friends ability to text.
Now, I'm dropping my opposing thumb envy and donning my' No Texting please. I'm human', t-shirt. The ubiquitous cellphone may be here to stay, but my opposing thumbs will never supersede the dexterity of all my senses, including my fingers. Let me hear, think, feel, touch and smell the connection between us. Let me listen to the sound of your voice whispering sweet nothings, or anything, in my ear. Let me awaken my senses with the art of communicating in 3-D and let me never succumb to the desire to "Text you" where I'm at.
I'm right here. Listening to what you have to say. Eager to communicate.
Give me a voice. A real human contact and I will give you....something to talk about.